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Right to social security coverage and Kela benefits while abroad

You are usually entitled to Kela benefits during temporary stays abroad. A temporary stay abroad is usually taken to mean a stay that lasts a maximum of 6 months.

In certain situations, even a stay lasting more than six months can be considered to be a temporary stay. You may retain the right to benefits for longer than six months for example if you are a full-time student, a posted employee, or staying in another EU country in some other capacity than as an employee.

With some Kela benefits, even a short period of residence abroad can affect your right to them. Basic social assistance, for instance, is affected by any period of foreign stay lasting more than seven days, while in the case of the child home care allowance, the limit is three months. Please check the webpage describing the benefit relevant to you for details on whether you can retain your right to the benefit if you travel abroad.

Tell Kela if you are moving abroad

Tell Kela that you are moving abroad if

  • you will be staying abroad for longer than three months and Kela is currently paying you benefits
  • you will be staying abroad for longer than six months and you are a full-time student, a posted employee, or otherwise entitled to Kela benefits despite staying abroad
  • you will be employed briefly in another EU or EEA country, in Switzerland or in the United Kingdom
  • you stay abroad on a frequent basis and spend most of your time abroad (for example 1-6 months at a time), and Kela is paying you benefits.

The notification to Kela must be made at the latest when you return to Finland, or sooner if your stay abroad becomes relevant to your benefits. You can make the notification in the OmaKela e-service. Please note that our e-service is only available in Finnish and Swedish.

If you are in another EU or EEA country, in Switzerland or in the United Kingdom as a posted employee, your employer must apply to the Finnish Centre for Pensions to get an A1 certificate for you. That way you will not have to notify Kela yourself that you are moving abroad.

Persons that are entitled to Kela benefits during stays abroad of more than 6 months

  • posted workers or self-employed persons
  • aid workers
  • locally hired employees
  • students
  • civil servants
  • researchers
  • family members of any of the above

Posted employees and self-employed persons, aid workers, locally hired employees and researchers

If you are posted by a Finnish employer to another EU/EEA country or to Switzerland or the United Kingdom, your employer must apply to Finnish Centre for Pensions to get an A1 certificate for you. If you are granted an A1 certificate, you will be eligible for Kela benefits during your posting. Employers must also apply to the Finnish Centre for Pensions for a certificate of posting for employees who are posted to a country that has a social security agreement with Finland.

If you are a posted worker or self-employed person, aid worker or researcher who is staying in a country other than another EU/EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, you can be get Kela benefits for up to five years. After that, you have to return to Finland for at least 6 months before you can go on a new posting and retain entitlement to Kela benefits. Since 1 April 2019, the same rules have also applied to missionaries.

Posted workers and their employers must notify Kela of the start and end of their foreign posting. Self-employed persons and research grant recipients must make the notification themselves. 

Certificate of posting (A1 certificate)

Employers must apply to the Finnish Centre for Pensions for an A1 certificate for employees posted to another EU/EEA country or to Switzerland or the United Kingdom. The certificate is proof that the person is covered by the Finnish social security system while working abroad.

Self-employed persons on a foreign posting and research grant recipients who are insured under the Farmers’ Pension Insurance Scheme must apply for an A1 certificate themselves if they will be staying in another EU/EEA country or in Switzerland or the United Kingdom.

The Finnish Centre for Pensions informs Kela directly of the A1 certificate. On the basis of the certificate their eligibility for residence-based social security benefits provided by Kela will continue without a separate application.

Learn more: Apply for an A1 Certificate (etk.fi)

Students

If you study abroad on a full-time basis, you are entitled to Kela benefits during the period of study.

Students who study abroad and receive financial aid for students from Finland do not need to separately notify Kela of the studies abroad since the necessary information is obtained via the payment of student financial aid. Other full-time students must themselves report the studies abroad if the studies last for more than 6 months.

Civil servants, other persons employed by the Finnish Government, and diplomats

The entitlement to Kela benefits during work abroad is retained for the following groups of persons when they go on assignments to an EU or EEA country or Switzerland:

  • civil servants of the Finnish Government
  • other persons employed by the Finnish Government
  • diplomats

The employer reports to Kela that the employee works abroad.

Civil servants posted to another EU/EEA country or to Switzerland get a certificate from the Finnish Centre for Pensions indicating their coverage under the Finnish social security system.

Accompanying family members

Family members must report their stay abroad to Kela if they accompany the employee abroad.

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Last modified 21/2/2024

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